Worldwide, human trafficking is estimated to affect 800,000 people, according to the U.S. Department of State’s 2007 “Trafficking in Persons Report,” and more than 50 percent of victims are estimated to be under the age of 18.
In New Jersey, trafficking is defined by the state Trafficking Victim Protection Act of 2000. This includes forced or coerced commercial sexual exploitation of adults and minors in hotels, massage businesses, residential brothels, truck stops, escort services and on the streets. It also consists of forced labor, found largely in domestic work, agriculture, traveling sales crews, restaurants, construction, and health and beauty services. New Jersey currently ranks 13th in call volume with more than 561 calls to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.
In response to this growing epidemic, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) hosted a series of community forums on modern day slavery held by RWJUH in conjunction with several local organizations including Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking and the New Jersey Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.